Who are You Deep Inside (Truly)? Part I
Knowing oneself is said to be the work of a lifetime, but there are ways to accelerate the process.
First, let’s define our terms and the quest. It happens to be the case that there is a core self and that there is a surface self. The core self contains your truest interests, talents, capacity for loving others and capacity for loving yourself. It is a treasure chest that is your birthright. But things go horribly wrong—for most of us, and, probably, for most everyone. We are born into families that have less than the needed capacity to honor and nurture our core selves. After all, most human beings don’t become who they were meant to be before they become parents. We meet other people in life who convince us that it is risky to say who we truly are, lest we be bullied or ostracized. We are injured by random events—traumas and losses—that unconsciously lead us to bury ourselves even more deeply, because the hurt we experience convinces us to cover up.
The surface self helps us navigate the world. We can be social. We can get through stressful situations using humor or charm or avoidance or even hostility. We can be rewarded for a surface self that complies with expectations or chooses a path that leads to financial gain or perceived safety of other kinds.
But the surface self can’t deliver what we really hunger for—no longer acting out a role, but, instead, acting with integrity and intention, from the deepest parts of ourselves. Being ourselves. We can’t really feel love and believe in it, if the love is elicited by and directed towards our surface selves. We can only truly feel it when we have become ourselves and then—and only then—are embraced by another human being, or celebrated for deploying our real talents, or engaged in honest debate over our actual beliefs.
How can you begin to identify this core self that you have covered up? One way is to try to recall any childhood interest you had, but abandoned, because it wasn’t well-received by others. Or you could try to recall times you felt shut up or shut down, in any way. Maybe you were redirected to a more “practical” hobby or educational pursuit, despite your real affinity for something else. Maybe you were made to feel irrational for sharing your dreams or hopes or fears. Or maybe you lived through painful chapters of your life story that included moving a bunch of times and leaving friends behind, or seeing the dissolution of your parents’ marriage, or being left unprotected by a parent. If you think any of those events led you to “decide” to pretend to be someone you weren’t, or to “decide” not to take chances getting attached to anyone, or to “decide” that you can’t trust anyone, it’s time to reclaim your original instincts and interests and intuitions—to reclaim your true self.
See, the events you endured as a child or adolescent or young adult registered inside you with exaggerated intensity. You were more vulnerable then, with fewer experiences and fewer resources. So, you easily could have made blanket decisions about how much of you to share with the world around you (or with your own conscious mind). Now, you can rethink those blanket decisions and redeploy your unique, God-given, undying internal self—with its real talents, or real capacity for connectedness, or real courage to say what you think and stand up for other people who say what they think, too.
Who are you deep inside (truly)? We’ll talk more about it in my next blog
Dr. Keith Ablow
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